Child Car Restraint checking was first piloted in WA in 1998 by Kidsafe WA and had similar findings to services conducted in other states. The BankWest Rural Child Restraint Program and Free Child Car Restraint Checking Stations conducted by Roadwise committees developed from these pilots.
In 1999, the Injury Control Program, Health Department of WA prepared the document; Child Car Restraints in Western Australia, A Framework for Action which outlined 5 objectives to achieve the vision of reducing the number of deaths and injuries to WA child motor vehicle occupants aged 0 ? 14 years involved in motor vehicle crashes.
Establishment of accredited training for Type 1 fitters and the development of a network of fitting stations have taken a long time to finalise. When periodic free checking stations ceased in 2001, public appeal to Kidsafe WA resulted in the development of a Centre based child car restraint fitting and checking service, which is currently the only formalised child car restraint fitting service in WA.
Since the service was established, about 1100 restraints have been installed or checked. The installation / checking process documents all aspects and variables involved from the vehicle, the restraint, the anchorage point and bracket, actual installation, including seatbelts and discussion and demonstration of proper fit and adjustment for the child who is to use the restraint.
Typical issues seen are improperly installed or used anchor brackets, inappropriate use of upper tether straps & inappropriate seatbelt use and harness adjustment. Less frequently, but of greater significance are damage to straps and seat belts, damage to or missing parts from the restraint body.
The implications for a state-wide network of authorised fitting stations are that there is a need for appropriate training of fitters, quality assurance of authorised fitting services and overall co-ordination by a body that holds knowledge, expertise and skills in the content area.